Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wheat breeders make breakthrough against devastating wheat rust

"Researchers at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico will announce next week that they have developed wheat varieties showing "near immune" resistance to deadly stem rust disease. Once thought as well-conquered as polio, stem rust is known for killing as much as half a harvest.
A mutant strain of the fungus that causes stem rust appeared in Uganda a decade ago, tearing through previously resistant crops. Scientists found that the fungus, Ug99, could infect 90 percent of the world's wheat, causing a surge of concern from the United States to India. Wheat provides a fifth of the world's calories; a mass outbreak risked plunging many societies back into hunger, reversing agriculture's gains in the developing world."
The important thing now is to make sure that these new resistant varieties are in the public domain and not controlled by multinational corporations. 

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